Beth Hersh is director of scholarships for the CFO. “Through scholarship funds, donors have given the gift of education to outstanding and deserving students who will forever benefit. Scholarship funds are so important because they make such a tremendous impact in student’s lives and for so many students the dream of a college education a reality,” Hersh says.
Katie Garretson was the Pat Higham Nursing Scholarship’s second recipient. Although Ferbet helped read applications the first year, she didn’t have time to help with the 2021 round because her twins were graduating from high school. That’s what made the CFO’s selection even more serendipitous, she says.
Garretson grew up in Bolivar and laughs when she says she hasn’t gone far from home. She, Spencer and their 9-year-old daughter live near both her parents’ home, and his. And she works as a nurse intern at Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar while attending school in Springfield. She was close to her mother-in-law, she says. Patti Garretson had retired from nursing in 2018 after 40 years. Because of scleroderma, she was the recipient of a double-lung transplant. She died last January, Katie says, from transplant-related complications of COVID-19.
Katie Garretson had a successful six-year career as an occupational therapy assistant, but like many during the pandemic, she was out of work for a while. Nursing became more attractive. “I think I’m capable of helping people in a different realm, and more in that nursing role,” she says. But it’s a financial burden for non-traditional adult students, Katie says, when you have a mortgage and other family expenses. That’s why she was so grateful to receive the scholarship. Once she realized the connection between her family and the Highams, it held even more meaning. “I just feel so fortunate and blessed to have been able to receive this — even if there wasn’t this connection. But to also have that — it felt like God helped make this possible; and that Pat and Patti were in on it.”
To know her mother is still helping student nurses — especially Katie, who is a working mom like her mother was — is so meaningful, Ferbet says: “I just think how everything came full circle was really, really special.”